Stony Plain MLA, Erin Babcock, announced more than $50,000 in funding for two Stony Plain organizations that will be used to improve programming and facility services at the Family Connections Centre.
Two Stony Plain organizations received a helping hand from the provincial government last Friday as Stony Plain MLA Erin Babcock announced more than $50,000 in local funding.
Babcock was at the Stony Plain Family Connections Centre on May 19 to present grant funding to MOMS Canada and the Alberta Parenting for the Future Association (APFA) on behalf of the provincial government. Babcock awarded $8,000 to MOMS Canada through the Alberta government’s community initiatives program and $51,621 to APFA through the community facility enhancement program.
“I had the privilege to present grant cheques to two amazing organizations in Stony Plain,” said Babcock in a post on her official Facebook page. “Projects and organizations such as these thrive when supported by the community.”
MOMS Canada, an organization that helps single mothers achieve success in their lives, said the $8,000 they received through the grant will be used to help improve and increase the programming they offer in Stony Plain.
“Our hopes are that this funding will help grow our two programming options,” said MOMS Canada program manager Madison Ting. “The first program is our empowered moms program which is an education-based program that works on skill building and offers workshops on relevant topics that single mothers need to know. We do everything from helping them learn how to cook healthy meals to debt reduction.”
The second program the funding will be used for is what MOMS Canada calls their “moms connect” program.
“One thing that single moms often suffer from is a disconnection from other adults that can lead to isolation and depression. We want to build a program that offers a place for single moms to come and bring children and be part of the community,” said Ting.
APFA will be using the $51,621 they received in conjunction with $25,000 they also received as a donation from the Stony Plain Rotary Club for renovations to their facility. That combined total of $76,621 will be used to help fund kitchen renovations at the Family Connections Centre. The APFA will also be contributing $26,621 from its own budget to the effort.
Pamela Geddes, the APFA executive director, said the renovations have been a long time coming. In 2015, when the group leased the building, they were informed that the kitchen was not up to code and would need to be renovated.
“When we originally moved into the space, the development permit excluded the kitchen because it needed to be brought up to code. This grant is to do that,” said Geddes.
Once completed, Geddes said the new kitchen will improve the service the APFA offers as well as that of other organizations that operate in the building.
“We’ll use the kitchen to offer services like community kitchen for families. The Parkland Head Injury Association can offer their group a kitchen space. Clubs and organizations can rent it. Basically, the outcome we’re looking for is to raise the awareness of nutrition and healthy cooking, eating and living,” she said.
Single motherhood carries with it a considerable financial burden, as well as social and emotional costs. But many women won’t be deterred. Jodie Griggs
When Merewyn Hines was 25 she decided that come hell or high water, in 10 years, she’d have a kid. With whom was not really a concern. Like generations of women before her, she knew the man’s part could just be a technicality.
After four years of undergoing various fertility treatments, Hines, now 40, has a boisterous two-and-a-half-year-old daughter conceived via donor sperm. It cost her much more than she anticipated — over $60,000— but she doesn’t regret a thing.
WATCH BELOW: What do you do when fertility treatments fail?
“Ever since we’ve been able to freeze sperm, there’s been a demand for artificial insemination — it’s been decades,” says Dr. Jeff Roberts, president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.
He says there’s been an uptick in the number of women choosing to conceive with donor sperm every year, although it hasn’t been “an explosion.” While he estimates a standard practice might treat two to three women per week, Dr. Jason Hitkari, co-director of Vancouver’s Olive Fertility Centre, says he treats about 30 patients per month.
As can be expected, the age of these women is edging closer and closer to 40.
“The average age of the single women I see is 37,” Roberts says. “They’re either women who don’t have a partner and want to have a kid, or women who already have kids and want another one on their own. Regardless, they’ve usually educated themselves on what’s involved and are ready to go ahead.”
In most cases, delaying parenthood boils down to money (along with other factors like staying in school longer and wanting to establish a stable career), but for some women, that’s a minor obstacle when the priority is having a child.
Hines was one of the smart ones: because she knew what she wanted, she started putting money aside in her “baby fund” early on. By the time she was 34, she had saved enough to start the process.
“I started with $40,000 and because I was working through the years [of attempted conception], I was replenishing what I spent with every pay cheque,” she says. “I also stopped contributing to my RRSPs and didn’t put money aside for vacations. If I did go on a vacation, it was usually backpacking trips around B.C. Every extra bit of money I had went to the baby fund.”
While Hines went through more fertility treatments than she had anticipated — seven cycles of intrauterine insemination and three cycles of IVF including ICSI, a process in which a single sperm is injected into the egg before implantation, and which comes at an extra cost — the average costs for single women looking to conceive via donor sperm are considerable.
It starts with the donor sperm. Roberts estimates that samples cost from $700 to $1,000 per vial (but it’s advised that women purchase two to three vials to account for failed attempts and to have some left over should they decide to try for a second child), then there are administrative costs in getting the sample to the clinic, which range from $200 to $300. Storage fees are another $200 to $300, and insemination costs anywhere from $300 to $500.
Judging by those numbers, in the best-case scenario, it would cost $1,400 in one month. But if IVF and ICSI are required, in addition to the fertility drugs that normally accompany that kind of treatment, a woman could be looking at $10,000 to $17,000 for just one attempt.
“I find that people try to afford it in different ways,” Hitkari says. “They’ll take a line of credit or borrow from their parents. And parents will often help because they’re interested in their kids’ well-being and happiness, and they want grandchildren. People will find a way to afford it.”
However, doctors still take their patient’s situation into consideration.
“When I’m trying to get a woman pregnant and she’s single and her family is on the other side of the continent, I don’t want to be giving her twins,” Roberts said. “So we do everything we can to minimize the risk of multiple gestation, because that’s not just hard medically [because there’s a higher risk for miscarriage] but also financially.”
Then there’s the social aspect of single motherhood. A woman raising a child (or children) alone is certainly nothing new, but if finances and community are in short supply, it could create a very isolating life.
“We see single moms who are very poor and overworked, but their needs are more than just financial,” says Madison Thomas, program manager of MOMS Canada, a non-profit organization in Alberta that supports single mothers. “They need community support for help outside of their financial perspective. Many of these women are lonely, depressed and isolated. It’s a common theme.”
“I think I miss the idea of a partner more now that I have a child rather than when I was going through the process of getting pregnant,” she says. “Everything that happens now is on me. I don’t have the flexibility to explore a career change because that could mean there’s no income. It would have been nice to have the emotional support before, but now it’s more about having someone who could be there and help with the finances.”
Despite these obvious concerns, there is no definitive demographic profile of Canadian women seeking to get pregnant on their own. Both Roberts and Hitkari say that they see women from all socioeconomic, cultural and racial backgrounds seeking donor sperm. Mainly because it’s a much more affordable option than freezing and storing their eggs (which runs about $8,000), and doing IVF at a later date.
Plus, there’s the conviction that comes with the desire to be a mom.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Hines says. “All the money and procedures and emotional stress — it was worth it. I don’t think I’d have a second child, but knowing now everything I’d have to go through to have her, I’d definitely do it again.”
That’s the kind of attitude that comes at no cost.
Allyson Relf, executive director of Moms Canada, encourages women to joining the group that offers support and education in various areas of being a single parent.
By Crystal St. Pierre
Being a single parent can be a very stressful situation on the entire family.
From the burdens of working and finding childcare, to paying bills or buying groceries, these issues can cause individuals to feel very over-whelmed and exhausted.
This is why community groups such as Moms Canada play such substantial roles in providing individuals with the support they need during difficult times.
In addition, they will guide women into learning key components of how to build a successful future.
“I love seeing women become more empowered,” said Allyson Relf, executive director of the group. “They are all women who are motivated to get more out of life.”
Relf said it is amazing to watch individuals grow and begin to feel better about themselves and take control of their lives.
Currently there are 50 individuals ranging in age from 18 to 45 who access the monthly activities offered through Moms Canada.
Every Monday evening the group meets to discuss or listen to guest speakers about various topics – a parenting group, empowered moms, or moms connect. These groups will cover issues of puberty, budgeting, your inner critic, cooking healthy on a budget and self-care. During each of these meetings childcare is provided.
During the Mom’s Connect portion of the group, members are teamed up with a mentor who discusses any issues they are having and will provide direction on ways to deal with it.
Moms Canada also works in partnership with other tri-area groups such as Alberta Parenting for the Future, NeighbourLink, local churches and Compassionate Connection. All of these groups are located at the Family Connection Centre in Stony Plain. For more information about the group please contact Relf at 780-960-1554.
3/8 cup shortening or margarine
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cup wheat bran
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (use some white if preferred)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp soda
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
(Sour milk by adding about 2 tsp vinegar)
Beat eggs with shortening, slowly add sugar, add some milk and flour alternately with baking powder and soda. Stir in bran and raisins. Store in fridge until needed keep tightly covered in a plastic bowl. Keeps for up to two weeks
Meda Weir (left) is the founder of MOMS Canada, a faith-based charity that helps single moms get back on their feet. Starting May 5, Weir and Allyson Relf (right), the executive director of MOMS Canada will become familiar faces at the Family Connection Centre in Stony Plain.
By Karen Haynes, Spruce Grove Examiner/Stony Plain Reporter
MOMS Canada, a local faith-based charity that helps struggling single moms find independence, is gearing up to move into the Family Connection Centre in Stony Plain, on May 5.
Opening later this month, the Family Connection Centre will house an assortment of community agencies with similar goals under the same roof, providing opportunity for shared resources and referrals to clients in need.
For MOMS Canada, the move is exciting, as it will provide the organization with increased visibility and accessibility within the community. But, it does not come without its challenges as staff expect a significant increase in clientele, need for resources and finances, and manpower — or volunteers.
“We felt it was time to take another step of faith and (move to) where we can be more visible,” said MOMS Canada founder Meda Weir. “It’s definitely going to be challenging because it’s more money, but in order to grow we had to take the risk.”
Currently, MOMS Canada’s office is located on the lower level of St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Spruce Grove where staff and volunteers provide two main programs — Steps to Success and an outreach program — to local single moms in need. The end goal is to see them find healing and resolution to past emotional wounds and become independent, successful women and mothers.
MOMS Canada’s Steps to Success initiative involves an intact process that requires moms to meet the organization’s criteria. Once enrolled, moms in this program receive mentoring, community connections, referral services, life skills training, car care programming and coaching in goal setting, for up to five years. Additionally, counselling services are available to them for a nominal fee.
The five-year time frame allows those moms who wish to go back to school a chance to complete an educational program and look for work for one year.
Weir describes most moms who have received help from MOMS Canada in this capacity as being “go-getters” who have found themselves in desperate circumstances — be it a result of bad decision-making or events outside of their control.
However, those who are not enrolled in the Steps for Success initiative can receive support through MOMS Canada’s outreach program.
The outreach program is available to any mom who needs access to community resources, referral services and life skills training. In the Family Connection Centre, MOMS Canada plans to run a drop-in centre where women are taught practical skills, like how to budget, grocery shop or cook at home.
In total, MOMS Canada has served approximately 40 women since its inception in 2009.
“We want single moms out there to know we’re here and that we’re approachable,” Weir said. “We don’t want there to be any stigma out there that says you have to be a Christian to be (a client). We want to just love them and let them know … that no matter who they are, we won’t judge them.”
For Allyson Relf, MOMS Canada executive director, the charity is place for mothers to “discover and follow through with their dreams.”
“I love giving them the tools to make it come true,” Relf said.
For the move to the Family Connection Centre to be successful, MOMS Canada will require community members to come forward and offer their time and efforts in volunteerism. Specifically, the charity is in need of mentors, who are willing to walk alongside mothers in need.
Assistance in fundraising is also a necessity as the charity moves from its rent-free office space to the Family Connection Centre, where a lease agreement has been signed. According to Weir, “this must be the year for financial growth.”
MOMS Canada will host a plant and garage sale at St. Matthews Lutheran Church on May 23 and anticipates running a corporate golf tournament this summer.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or volunteer with MOMS Canada, or attending the volunteer appreciation event are asked to contact Allyson Relf at 780-960-1554.
Celebration of our journey
On April 26 at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, MOMS Canada invites the community to share in its “Celebration of Our Journey and Volunteer Appreciation” event. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Weir will share the story of MOMS Canada’s — where it all began and where it’s headed.
The day will also recognize its volunteers, the church for housing its operations and celebrate its incorporated charity status (which was obtained in December 2014) and the exciting move to Stony Plain.